Friday, March 29, 2013

No Terp for nearly two week hospital stay

A UK hospital is being accused of failing to provide an interpreter for a deaf patient--and possibly performing surgery without her consent. Scotland’s Public Services Ombudsman, Jim Martin, says the woman was unable to communicate with the staff of Ninewells Hospital located in Dundee for 12 days. During her hospital stay, the unnamed patient had her appendix removed. Martin is accusing the hospital of not putting enough effort into finding an interpreter. The patient used BLS (British Sign Language) and had little lip-reading ability.  She handed staff members interpreter cards and even pointed at a poster on the wall repeatedly. It said the hospital would provide an interpreter when needed. But it turns out the outdated poster included the wrong contact information. Martin says Section 20 of the Equality Act of 2010 clearly says that when the staff was first alerted to the need, there needed to be a plan put in place to provide the patient with the means necessary to communicate with the staff. In this case, a sign language interpreter.  The hospital eventually did make two calls to a terp service over the weekend, but without success. Hospital officials complain there is a shortage of interpreters in the UK but agreed to change their procedures--including allowing patients to schedule an interpreter themselves and training staff on the use of basic sign language. Read the PDF report here.

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